The 1950s was a boom time in this town, with post-war housing developments sprouting where there once stood orchards, vineyards and even a squab farm that delivered its delicacies to faraway clients. The crush of newcomers meant there was a need for more schools and churches. La Cañada could clearly support more businesses, too, so the boulevard became lined with additional markets, banks, dry cleaners, diners, nurseries — you name it. Most of the town’s intersections were dominated by gas stations back in those days. La Cañadans may have slept in town, but once the sun rose they were on the move, driving to the metropolis for work and to the mountains for recreation.
Well, perhaps there were also people who doubted La Cañada would amount to much. But it’s doing pretty well today, especially since it gained cityhood in 1976 and locals finally had a real say in its destiny. The respective spurts of growth between it and Sport Chalet have been intertwined. Sure, there have been a few spats between the city and the retailer over the years, but we thought those had all been ironed out and things were humming along OK in the Town Center, which is very nearly at the city’s heart, or at least where the major arteries flow.
Yes, we knew that the Olberz family’s La Cañada Properties had sold off the Town Center in 2011, and that Norbert and Irene’s son Eric had stepped down from the Sport Chalet board of directors last fall. New avenues were sought to help keep the retail chain relevant and thriving. The signs were all there that a sale was very likely. But still, we were caught by surprise when we learned the offer of a Connecticut suitor with deep pockets had been accepted in recent days.
Although we La Cañadans may feel slightly miffed to have been kept in the dark, we hope the love hasn’t died completely and that Sport Chalet will thrive under its new ownership. Who knows? Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful new relationship — between La Cañada Flintridge and the knight otherwise known as Vestis Retail Group LLC.
--CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.